The Black Sticks are prepared and ready to take on some top international competition when the Malaysia Airlines Summer Series starts this Saturday (5 February) at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Auckland.
With 14 matches scheduled over the next three weeks in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, the Black Sticks Women will play Korea and the Black Sticks Men will play Korea, Japan and Belgium.
“Training has gone really well over the last few weeks and we are looking forward to getting on the turf and playing against Korea, who we know will provide us with some very competitive games,” says Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager.
“Both teams have shown improvement over the last 12 months and this series will be a good gauge to see where we are at,” says Hager.
There have been 19 players announced in the Black Sticks women’s squad and 22 players announced in the Black Sticks Men’s squad.
Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod is likely to call on some young developing players to take to the turf throughout the series.
“With nine games scheduled and with some of our most experienced players injured, there is an opportunity to try out some different combinations,” says McLeod.
Players such as Emily Naylor, Lucy Talbot, Gemma Flynn as well as Shea McAleese and Nick Wilson who have been playing in the European Leagues have come back during their mid-season to be part of the series.
Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole is pleased to have four such competitive teams visiting and sees it as a great start to the team’s build up to the 2012 London Olympics.
“To have this level of competition visit New Zealand is great and it’s a chance for New Zealanders to come along and watch all the speed and action of international test hockey,” says Poole.
If you buy a ticket through www.iticket.co.nz before 12 February you go in the draw to win four return tickets from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Malaysia Airlines. For the full competition schedule go to www.hockeynz.co.nz
The Korea women’s team and the Belgium men’s team arrived in Auckland today. The Korea men’s team arrive tomorrow and the Japan men’s team arrives on 8 February.
Download the squad lists for the Malaysia Airlines Golden Summer Series here
Source: Hockey New Zealand Media release
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